Good Hustlers: Meko Keen Bailey || Cake-A-Whisk on Vegan

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I met Meko in the most delicious way, through eating one of her vegan cupcakes. They were the classic food you ate with your eyes before they make it to your stomach and were so beautiful as well as being delicious! I had to order some more, and when I met her in person, begged her to adopt me, but also to be part of the Good Hustler pantheon. Here she is, the cakeiest gal to ever not harm a sentient being in her own words...

How did your Good Hustler Journey begin?

Since pre-teens I was cooking and experimenting and learning all the basic cooking techniques. I held a keen interest in desserts and baking and soon became “the dessert person” of the family. Even though food was a clear choice in terms of a career for me, it didn’t happen straight away. I had a troubled teen life and dropped out of school, with no clear direction of where I was going. Eventually I found myself working in hospitality, a saga which would last for over a decade. Through the years I gained plenty of experience including working in kitchens and as a head barista, eventually transitioning into supervision and management. During this time, I had a voice in my head that knew I wasn’t doing what I wanted for the rest of my life and there was a very clear indication that I needed to be in a position where I had creative freedom, preferably one where I made my own rules.

In 2017, my husband and I had made the decision of a tree change to Tasmania, so we started preparations to arrive in January 2018 and start our new life. During this move I was in my first trimester of my pregnancy, and I just finished up yet another stint in hospitality as a barista. I was very open to what was to come next and didn’t make any major plans in the cloudiness of morning sickness and fatigue which drew over me. The thought of starting a market stall selling my baked goods was something which came to mind where I wasn’t feeling the full slog of work which I had done in the past. I made the necessary preparations with council and market operators and things went from there and have been growing ever since.

Cake A Whisk On Vegan never started out with the intention of being serious. Initially it only started as a small country market stall selling some of my baked creations while I was easing my way through my new life in Tassie with a growing foetus in tow. The vegan component came from my fairly recent lifestyle change into veganism and the long-term allergies which I’ve had with eggs and dairy. The interest and demand of my vegan cakes has skyrocketed in just a few short months and I couldn’t be more pleased to turn this into my permanent practice. Even though I never intended it to go so far, it was clearly what I was meant for all along.

1. Describe your business in one powerful sentence.

Cake A Whisk On Vegan’s main beliefs are: 1. To provide a service where cake can be naughty and be kind at the same time, 2. To be conscious of the vast dietary needs and choices of the community and 3. to give our customers the choice to celebrate with their loved ones while maintaining peace of mind.

2. How do you integrate service to others in your business model?

I want customers to feel they have freedom of choice, without worry of what a product contains or what adverse reactions may come from it. I try to work with customers to ensure they are getting a product which agrees with their needs, personal choices and most importantly their tastebuds. Providing a service where vegan individuals or allergy sufferers can share a slice of the pie with their non-diet conforming loved ones without compromising on flavour or quality is an important goal for me. Another huge goal for me is to take away the stigma around vegan and allergy friendly foods being “not as tasty” as more traditional versions. That’s where my business name comes from. I’m trying to send a message to the public to take risks on non-traditional versions of foods, because often you would be pleasantly surprised by what you find.  

3. What were some of the highlights and lowlights of your journey to where you are now?

Any stall holder could tell you that there are really good days, and then there are really bad days where sometimes you don’t even make a sale. Thank fully I never had a day where there were zero sales but there were plenty of days where I would sell less than half of my stock, which is a big loss when you’ve worked in the kitchen over days preparing your creations. Luckily for me, even though we could use the extra cash, I wasn’t necessarily there for the money and found solace in the fact that I was doing something that I loved.

Being pregnant definitely has its ups and downs with this kind of work. Tiredness can come over you like a wave and standing up in the kitchen for hours has all kinds of effects on your feet and posture. I have to ensure that I’m well prepared and start preparations days before a cake needs to go to the customer. If I’m not prepared, I tend to end up with too much for one day and the exhaustion you get in pregnancy can hit very hard! I’m hoping after my hiatus with the birth of my baby I can have a little more energy but I’m not exactly confident that will happen straight away considering what’s involved in starting a new family.

Being new to veganism has also had its battles. I only made the transition a year ago and was fully committed for 4 months before becoming pregnant. For someone who loves food, all different types of foods, and comes from a family where food is a huge part of their culture there were times where I’ve had a few slips. This can bring on some guilt in correlation to my true values and the purpose of my business. However, I’ve come to a place now where I’ve fully committed myself to veganism again to be inline with my beliefs and to represent my business in a way where I can come from experience.

4. Do you have a spiritual practice? (This can be anything that you use to connect to yourself, still your mind, whatever, previous answers have included aerobics, crochet and drumming in a rock band :-)

Sounds like a strange thing in terms of spiritual practice but I spend a lot of my time alone, and I’m very comfortable with that. I find that being alone is a great way clear your mind, sieve through your thoughts and be at one with your beliefs to find your better self.

I used to enjoy painting at a young age. It was a great outlet for me in terms of expressing myself. Eventually I grew bored of painting, but I’ve found that the actual practice of creating cakes replicates that feeling of painting when I was young. It’s a fantastic creative outlet for me and I get a lot out of it on a personal and spiritual level. A bonus when it’s your job.

In addition to that, I have discovered yoga in the last year or two. As a beginner to the practice I’ve found that it has created a very centred and relaxed feeling within myself. Something I’ve felt hard to obtain from other forms of exercise in the past. Obviously since becoming pregnant I’ve been a little less flexible or inclined to get down on the floor and hope to get back into practice after the birth of my little bun!

5. Advice for others who want to start their own good hustle?

Try to place your thoughts on the end results without taking focus off the process of getting there. Patience is very important in sustaining your dreams. Things are hard to get through at times and I feel obstacles are a constant with anything, even if you have already reached your goals. I’m still on my journey and tackle these obstacles every day.

Secondly, don’t let the thoughts and assumptions that others may have about you put you in a hole and prevent you from moving forward. You know who you are and deep down you know what you’re in the world to do so keep chipping away and you will get to a place you want to be for yourself, not for others.

Polly McGee